Keys welcome back old favourite

First published in Gwent rugby Campaign Series: Photograph of the Author by

CROSS KEYS v LLANDOVERY (Tomorrow, KO 2.30)

CROSS Keys welcome back former favourite Steffan Jones from the Newport Gwent Dragons as they seek to take league leaders Llandovery’s unbeaten record.

Outside half Jones cut his teeth at Bargoed and Cardiff before being turned into the finished article during an excellent spell at Pandy Park.

Some sparkling displays and a points machine capability were rewarded when the 21-year-old was given his chance at the region with his debut in 2010.

Jones started to establish himself at Rodney Parade last season and with Jason Tovey’s summer departure to Cardiff Blues was battling with Lewis Robling for the No 10 shirt.

But his form behind a Dragons pack often going in reverse and a side struggling badly this campaign, has suffered badly of late.

Jones gets an opportunity to restore some much needed confidence by playing for his old club and Keys head coach Greg Woods welcomes back one of their favourite sons with open arms in an arrangement he thinks is mutually beneficial.

He said: “Having Steffan back gives us a big boost, having a regional No 10, and it gives him a chance of finding a little bit of confidence.

“He isn’t involved in the game with Northampton on Sunday so asked (Dragons head coach) Darren Edwards if he could play for us.”

Keys will also have the services of young Dragon in hooker Sam Parry who will be on the bench, Gerwyn Price overcoming a shoulder problem to start.

After a number of injury worries and suspensions, Keys have also been affected by the departure of attack guru Mark Ring, the former Wales ace leaving to take up a coaching position with his former club Cardiff.

The Pandy Park side have also just seen two big players, tighthead prop Marc Jones and back rower Rhys Williams, joining Neath.

But key men like wing Kristian Baller, centre Leon Andrews and back row Tom Lampard are back after lengthy absences due to injury.

Keys will look to put their troubles behind them, determined to end a four-match losing streak.

“This weekend’s game is a big one for us in all aspects, a number of things knocking us back in recent weeks,” said Woods.

“There’s no need for panic and a win over an unbeaten Llandovery would be great.”

Cross Keys: G David, K Baller, A James, L Andrews, N Trowbridge, S Jones, R James, R Cornock, G Price, A Lott, T Lampard, D Hodge, R Peebles, R Nash (capt), A Powell. Replacements: C Gould, S Parry, O Hodge, S Matthews, R Dyer, AN Other, L Williams.

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